Rural crime: 'Current law puts farmers in front of judge and jury'
The law needs to be revised to favour landowners and householders over criminal intruders, leading specialists have argued.
Paul Williams was joined on stage by lawyer Karen Walsh, John Tully of 'Save Our Communities', and Jer Bergin from the IFA at the Independent Talks series at the National Ploughing Championships yesterday.
Graham Lowndes, whose father's home was ransacked in April 2012 by burglar Matthew Fahey, spoke of his first-hand experience of rural crime at the event.
All of the panel agreed that a revision of the judicial system is required to tackle the problem.
"We need to help homeowners," lawyer Karen Walsh said. Ms Walsh said the Criminal Law Defence and Dwelling Act 2011 created several obstacles for homeowners who had been targeted by thieves.
"The first thing you have to prove is that this person is a trespasser - that's the first hurdle," she said. "Then you need to show you used no more force than reasonably required.
"The court look at foresight and circumstances and your state of mind. They also look at an objective test - which examines if a person in a reasonable mindset would have acted the same way."
Ms Walsh acknowledged that the act was an attempt to address the issue but it ultimately put "the farmer before a judge and jury". She argued that changes need to happen "from the top down".